“One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth”
by Kenneth Chang
The New York Times, August 24, 2016
I copied a friend of mine on this article. He emailed me back as follows:
Roger — yes I saw this exciting piece. What amazes me is that this planet is described as relatively close but is in fact a trillion miles away or so.
I replied to my friend as follows:
A couple of things:
Kenneth Chang, the NY Times’s lead science writer is excellent.
They used to have some boring ones (science writers) years ago.
I am woefully uninformed and poorly educated in science, but I find this sort of stuff fascinating.
To get to the planet Proxima b, traveling at incredibly fast speeds, would take something like a hundred (or is it fifty?) years.
Given its distance from us in light years, it would take around four and a half years merely for a signal or electronic message sent from there to reach us (and vice versa).
Another thing (or two):
We know that life on earth originated from a “primordial soup” … there were four basic elements present that made life possible.
It seems certain that life could originate elsewhere.
Planets that could be habitable keep being discovered orbiting other stars … this is only beginning because of powerful telescopes that we didn’t have before which are orbital.
It seems to me now — considering the arc of discovery, as it were — that there is no question whatsoever that there is life on other planets — there are so many stars in the universe, including the zillions with planets orbiting them, it boggles the mind.
Of course there are! I would be inclined to say — definitely, inarguably. There are habitable planets out there with a form of life. We just haven’t reached or contacted them.
— Roger W. Smith
August 25, 2016